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Muhammad most popular name

Home Correspondent

The name “Muhammad”, along with variant spellings, was the most popular name for boys in England and Wales last year according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data published last month.

Although there were 6,784 babies named Muhammad in different variations, it was reported that “Oliver” is the most popular boy’s name, while “Muhammad” is ranked fifth.

The ONS treats all names separately by publishing the names of babies as written on birth certificates and ranking them accordingly.

Muhammad topped the list of baby names in London, north-west England, Yorkshire and Humber, and the west Midlands, the data reveals, broadly reflecting the spread of the Asian community in England.

There were 3,710 babies named Muhammad, while 1,615 were named Mohammed and 751 Mohammad during the year across England and Wales.

Meanwhile, “Yusuf” was the 93rd most popular boy’s name, with 620 babies named after the Prophet Yusuf. And “Ibrahim” came in 98th place with 591 babies called that name.

As for girls, “Maryam” came in 86th place with 592 babies called Maryam. And “Aisha” was in 100th place with 50 babies called that name.“Olivia” topped the list of girls’ names with 3,640 girls named Olivia, which means that “Muhammad” was also the most popular child’s name overall.

£100,000 raised for young Muslim hero who died saving elderly woman

Home Correspondent

Over £100,000 has been raised in memory of a young Muslim man of Somali heritage who is being hailed a hero after he died protecting a grandmother from a knifeman in west London.

Ali Abucar Ali, 20, was stabbed to death by a stranger after stepping in to help 82-year-old Betty Walsh.
The widow had been punched and knifed outside a kebab shop near her home. Basketball coach Ali collapsed in Albany Parade, Brentford, on the evening of November 12.

Walsh, a mother of six, was seriously injured but is no longer in a critical condition after kidney surgery.

Ali’s mother had rushed to comfort Betty’s family before she got the devastating news from police that her son had been knifed to death.

Speaking about Ali, Walsh’s eldest daughter, Bridget, 60, said, “I knew him and his mother. They are a very good family. His mother had rushed to comfort me as soon as she heard about what happened to mum, before the police phoned her and told her the devastating news that her son had so sadly been stabbed. Ali was a really hardworking, good lad who had recently won a scholarship; we think it was to play basketball.”

A childhood friend of Ali’s told “Ali was the youngest in the family, just 20 years old studying at university to be a great inspiration to us all. He was a boy loved by everyone in the Brentford and Chiswick community as he spent so much time coaching children basketball, a sport which he loved.”

“Ali was the most genuine, loyal, caring individual I’ve ever met in my life,” Michael Kwentoh, a former junior international basketball player who founded the club where Ali worked, said.

He added: “He just didn’t deserve what happened to him. He was just so innocent, so pure,” said Kwentoh.”

He said Ali coached boys between the ages of six and 10, and “made them feel like they were stars”. “He’d just make you believe in you more than you believe in yourself,” he added.

As of November 19 crowd-funding page for Ali has raised £103,358 beating its original £50,000 target and over 200 donors paid tribute to Ali. On the GoFundMe page, well wishers called Ali a ‘brave young man’ and an ‘upstanding member of our local community’. Samale Nur wrote, ‘Ali was such a wonderful young man who always encouraged my sons to do their best while coaching them in basketball. A true selfless hero.’

Abdulsatar Abdi Aden, who set up the crowd-funding page, said: ‘We lost a dear brother, the most caring, humble, funniest young man. Don’t have a single memory of him without seeing his amazing smile. Al ham dulilah fore he prayed salatul jummah and as we know we dont know when allah is going to take us, for his time has come, he was murdered by the hand of a man who has taken his sins.’
Gay McAuley Williams wrote ‘Dear Ali, all Brentford salutes you. Your courage and kindness will never be forgotten.’

Norris Henry, 37, of Brentford, appeared before Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on November 15 charged with Ali’s murder and the attempted murder of Walsh.

Henry, who lives near the scene of the attacks, allegedly used a 30cm knife – first stabbing Walsh in the back and then Ali in the chest before running away. The court heard the attacks in Albany Parade were unprovoked. Henry appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Wormwood Scrubs for a preliminary hearing.

He spoke to confirm his identity and the judge set out a timetable for the case, setting a plea hearing for February 21. Henry has been remanded in custody.

Scholar cancels Palestinian book talk at Glasgow University amid censorship claims

(Photo credit: Twitter)

Harun Nasrullah

A Danish Professor of Palestinian studies has cancelled an appearance at Glasgow University after management asked to vet his lecture to ensure that it did not break anti terrorism laws.

Dr Somdeep Sen, Associate Professor in International Development Studies at Roskilde University in Copenhagen, Denmark, was due to speak this month on his new work, Decolonizing Palestine, but announced he would no longer be taking part.

His decision comes after the university asked him to share contents of his speech ahead of the event and to ensure his talk did not breach UK terror laws. The university’s request to review Dr Sen’s material before the talk came after Glasgow University’s Jewish Society filed a complaint against the upcoming lecture, alleging it was anti-Semitic and would endanger Jewish students. Protocols on managing speakers were then activated.

Dr Sen, who has presented his book at a number of universities around the world without issue, claimed the university’s handling of his talk had been “extremely disappointing and alarming” and pulled out after questions about the handling of the situation went unanswered. He said claims his talk was anti-Semitic were made without basis and were potentially damaging to his reputation.

Dr Sen said: “It creates a chilling effect that discourages open scholarly discussion of the politics of Israel-Palestine and this will have consequences for the academic freedom on campus.

“As a leading UK research university and member of the prestigious Russell Group, the university’s actions are all the more troubling, by setting an example for others to follow.”

Glasgow University said it had not stopped Dr Sen from speaking and that it supported academic freedom and equality across campus.

The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the European International Studies Association have publicly supported Dr Sen and the Glasgow branch of the University College Union has put forward a motion in solidarity.

Dr Sen said the situation took a “bizarre” turn when he was told his talk could go ahead, as long as he did not say anything which breached anti-terror legislation given the IQB, the military wing of Hamas, is a proscribed terror organisation in the UK.

Dr Sen added: “The book engages in a scholarly discussion of the armed and civilian operations of Hamas as an organization. Such a discussion doesn’t violate anti-terror laws in the UK.”

Last month, the university received a petition signed by more than 500 people claiming it undermined academic freedom by describing an article as antisemitic. Signatories argued criticism of Israel should not be conflated with antisemitism.

A spokesperson for Glasgow University told The Muslim News Dr Sen “didn’t have to cancel, in fact the University actively encouraged him to give his lecture but he chose not to.” And that the University “is committed to supporting academic freedom and promoting equality and diversity across campus. Freedom of expression, the right to disagree, the protection of all staff and students in their right to hold views and of academic freedom are at the heart of our mission.

“We have written to BRISMES in response to its letter and stressed that we have not prohibited any academic at the University, nor have we prevented Dr Sen from doing so.”

Dr Sen branded both statements “misleading.” He told The Muslim News, “I was willing to deliver the talk despite the defamatory allegations, the procedural failures and the discriminatory treatment I was subjected to by the University of Glasgow. As I have stated in my correspondence with Glasgow I’m also firmly committed to academic freedom and freedom of speech and will not bow down to intimidation. However, as the second BRISMES letter made clear, there were some clear conditions the University needed to fulfill for me to deliver the talk.

For one thing, the University needed to issue an apology for the way it has handled the case before I was willing to deliver the scheduled talk. The BRISMES letter also insisted that all internal communications regarding my talk be made public in order to ensure that there is full transparency on what occurred in order to ensure that the proper lessons are learned from this case. The University fulfilled none of these conditions and I was therefore forced by their actions to pull out of the talk.”

He also described the university’s claim to be committed to supporting academic freedom and promoting equality and diversity on its campus as “at best an empty platitude and at worst misleading” as exemplified by “all of its actions in handling my talk show”.

“For instance, in its response to BRISMES, it has repeatedly failed to even so much as acknowledge BRISMES’ concerns, let alone do anything to show a serious interest in resolving them.

Their response to BRISMES’s second letter, which was 3.5 pages in length, the University of Glasgow devoted 8 lines to denying the University’s response was unlawful, discriminatory or in violation of my academic freedom and free speech. In this denial the University showed a total lack of any good faith effort to take seriously the concerns of the single most authoritative scholarly body in the field of Middle Eastern Studies in the UK. The University also provided the classic non-apology saying that they were ‘sorry that Professor Sen feels he has been badly treated by the University’”.

No response was received from Glasgow University regarding whether it had a policy of reviewing speeches by guests prior to the latest row.

Glasgow University supports the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is stated as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”.

Universities have been forced to sign up but some have questioned the definition’s practical use in determining guilt as well as its impact on academic inquiry.

Following threats of Government sanctions, over 200 higher education providers in England have adopted a controversial definition of anti-Semitism that places limits on criticism of Israel, a report has found.

According to the Office for Students (OfS), a total of 216 post-secondary institutions in the country have signed up to the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism over the past year.

The higher education regulator released figures on November 10 that showed 95 universities have now adopted the IHRA definition – a significant increase from the 28 universities who had signed on as of September 2020, according to Union of Jewish Students (UJS) research.

After the UJS stated that some 80 universities had no plans to adopt it, former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson criticised the “shamefully low” figures in October 2020 and warned that the OfS would take action – including freezing “funding streams” – if universities did not sign on by December.

Kesem Iglinsky-Frenkel, President of the Glasgow University’s Jewish Society told The Muslim News the society will not comment on the row with Dr Sen.

In conversation with Zahra Khimji, founder of modest sportswear start-up Longline Athletics

Zahra Khimji is a 33-year-old History graduate from Columbia University currently based in Harrow, Greater London. She is a qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, who teaches Body Attack, Body Balance and Body Pump for gyms across London. Zahra, who specialises in pre and postnatal fitness and recovery, took time out of her busy schedule to speak to The Muslim News ahead of the launch of her online shopping modest sportwear company Longline Athletics.

What’s the concept behind Longline Athletics?

Longline Athletics is an answer to a real problem for women that cover and love fitness. There are simply not enough options to cover modestly whilst working out or engaging in sport here in the UK. The line gives Muslim women that cover, the ability to enter the fitness arena with confidence. The pieces are functional but also flattering to wear.

What feedback did you receive about the idea of modest sportswear?

We have had very positive feedback about the brand and many women have responded positively to say that they are happy they have more options to workout in modest clothing.

Would it not be more lucrative to aim at modest fashion instead of sportswear?

There is a gap in the market when it comes to modest sportswear. The pieces that existed prior to our launch were not functional and not suitable for women. Given my experience as a trainer, I could easily see this with my clients and class members.

Nike entered the modest sports market in 2017 by launching a modest sportswear collection that included a sports hijab. How does Longline Athletics differentiate itself from major sports brands and how will it compete with global sports retailers?

Longline Athletics is different because it is created by a Muslim woman, myself, and the designs are based on the organic views and needs of women in the UK. I have spoken to many women about the styles and pieces they need to feel more comfortable in engaging in sport.

How many products do you anticipate selling?

We currently have an essentials collection consisting of the Lari Ultra Power top and the Serena Joggers. The Aya Sports Wrap is also another key piece that helps tie the outfit together. We hope to add more collections over time.

In which countries do you to ship?

We ship in the UK and internationally

Tell us about the design process and sport function of the collection.

The concept began as a series of sketches in 2020. The idea grew over the course of the lockdown period and after sourcing several suppliers, the samples were approved and then tested. The sports wrap was designed by a designer and myself.

Longline Athletics online shop is now open

Interview by Elham Asaad Buaras

Tories engulfed in corruption scandal

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was, humiliatingly, forced to deny his government is corrupt at the COP26 climate conference.(Credit: Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing St)

Hamed Chapman

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has, this month, tarnished the UK’s reputation on the world stage after he was forced to deny his Government was corrupt amid the growing allegation of sleaze among, particularly, Tory MPs.

A conflict of interest scandal brewed over the colossal number of MPs having second jobs following on from an ill-fated attempt by his Government to alter Parliament’s standards system to protect a former Conservative Cabinet Minister. Owen Paterson was found guilty of an “egregious case of paid advocacy” for lobbying for two firms that had him on the payroll.

There were also widespread revelations that the former Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, used his parliamentary office for lucrative private work, drawing comparisons with when the ruling party was embroiled in sleaze accusations back in the 1990s and over the extent of expenses a decade ago.

“I genuinely believe that the UK is not remotely a corrupt country nor do I believe that our institutions are corrupt,” Johnson said at a news conference in Glasgow when he was hoping to convince world leaders to commit further in their pledges at the COP26 climate conference.

“What you’ve got is cases where, sadly, MPs have broken the rules in the past, maybe guilty of breaking the rules today. What I want to see is them facing appropriate sanctions,” he insisted.

In London, Labour Leader Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of damaging himself and his party, saying “when he deliberately undermines those charged with stopping corruption, he corrodes that trust.”

When the Prime Minister gets the green light to corruption, he corrodes that trust.When he says that the rules to stop vested interest don’t apply to his friends, he corrodes that trust.”

Johnston attempted to alter the rules of sanctioning errant MPs for Paterson, who was under threat of suspension but was forced u-turn following backlash from Tories whipped, to force through the vote in the House of Commons and led to the former minister eventually resigning.

Regarding the former Attorney General, Cox claimed he gave “primary importance and fully carried out” his work in his constituency and that he “does not believe that he breached the rules” while doing his second job in the British Virgin Islands.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, announced that she had written to the Commissioner for Standards urging an investigation into Cox’s behaviour. Rayner said he was “using his taxpayer-funded office in Parliament to work for a tax haven under investigation for corruption is a brazen breach of the rules and an insult to taxpayers.”

Johnson’s government are accused of disregarding openness standards, lacking accountability, snubbing conventions, undermining democratic institutions and subverting governance norms throughout his premiership.

Accreditation changes agreed after Bahraini barred from Tory conference

Hamed Chapman

Greater Manchester Police have agreed to policy changes improving their accreditation process after settling a legal case involving a Bahraini activist who was denied entry to the 2019 Conservative Party Conference.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), had been due to speak at a fringe event about his experience of torture during Bahrain’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising organised by British charity Freedom from Torture and Bright Blue think-tank.

Alwadaei had been due to speak alongside former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, and Freedom from Torture’s Chief Executive, Sonya Sceats, at the event entitled ‘An authoritarian turn? How Britain can best stand up for individual rights around the world’ on September 27.

But he was denied entry clearance to attend the Tory Conference by officers from Greater Manchester Police, who refused to disclose the reason for their decision, stating only that the organisers were informed it was a ‘police issue’ that was not disclosed.

He was even denied an opportunity to challenge the decision.It was not until October 6 that the case was settled against the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police with Alwadaei accepting a nominal sum for a flawed decision that had led him to be refused entry, according to BIRD.

The force recognised that their decision to exclude Alwadaei was unlawful and violated his rights under Articles 8 (2) and 10 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Articles that protect the right to expect “no interference by a public authority” in their “right to respect for his private and family life” and the right to freedom of expression, respectively.

In a statement, BIRD also said that Greater Manchester Police further agreed to introduce policy changes aimed at improving “the process of applying for security accreditation for access to secure zones at political events.”

The policy, expected to be published before the end of the year, will “include provision for representations from applicants before they are refused entry.” The police also agreed to pay Alwadaei’s legal fees.

“Being refused entry to the conference felt like an attempt to censor me, particularly as I was attending to discuss the UK Government’s support for the Bahraini regime, which has subjected me and countless others to horrific acts of torture,” Alwadaei said.

He added he was also pleased that his successful challenge will “improve the system so that nobody else is prevented from contesting wrongful decisions made against them.”

Part of his legal team, Daniel Carey, Partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, further welcomed that Greater Manchester Police “recognised the breach of the right of freedom of expression in this case and would now incorporate the due process into their accreditation policy.”

“As a result, there will be a better chance in the future that more marginalised voices will be heard when party policy is being formulated. And that can be no bad thing,” Carey said.

Community champions honoured as Bradford Council for Mosques marks 40th anniversary

Sher Azam OBE, receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Lord Mayor of Bradford Shabbir Hussain
(Credit: Ahmed J Versi/The Muslim News)

Elham Asaad Buaras & Ahmed J Versi

Bradford’s Muslim community activists were honoured at an awards ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Bradford Council for Mosques (CfM) on September 24.

The awards were presented in front of an audience of 600 guests, which included Hassan Joudi, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain; Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire Mayor, MPs Naz Shah, Imran Hussain and Judith Cumming; Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe; and the Bishop of the Leeds Diocese, Rev Nick Baines, who spoke on behalf of Bradford’s inter-faith community.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Sher Azam OBE and Pir Syed Maroof Hussain Shah Naushahi for their dedication to supporting the Muslim community regionally and nationally.

“When I look back at where we were 40-years ago and the problems we were facing then, those problems are not there anymore, but there are new challenges which we are facing at the moment. I am sure the community will face these challenges successfully,” Sher Azam told The Muslim News.

Another long-time contributor to CfM, Ishtiaq Ahmed, was congratulated for his 40-year role in reducing inequalities and improving race relations. “40 years is a long span of time in the life of any organisation but for CfM to remain steady and focused throughout, for what has not been an easy ride for the Muslim community, is a tremendous testimony to the vision and steadfastness of its founding fathers and those that assumed this blessed but arduous responsibility in the ensuing years,” Ahmed, Policy & Strategic Support, Bradford Khidmat Centres, told The Muslim News

Naheed Mirza, the founding principal of Feversham Academy, the city’s first faith school for girls, was one of three recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Community award. She is joined by Mohammed Ajeeb CBE, former Lord Mayor of Bradford, and the first Asian Lord Mayor in the United Kingdom, and Dr Ramindar Singh MBE DL, a leading author, lecturer and expert on community cohesion, in taking to the stage to collect their awards. The way the community responded to the pandemic over the last 18 months saw the work of 10 people and organisations being praised.

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was also honoured for its efforts to engage and communicate with the Muslim community amid the effects of the pandemic, as well as for its Chaplaincy team’s contribution to meeting the needs of patients.

The British Islamic Medical Association was also presented with an award for its guidance and support locally to bust myths about the virus, promoting the importance of the vaccine, and reinforcing the importance of adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.

Graham Swain, the gravedigger at Scholemoor Cemetery, was honoured for how he and his team overcame the burial challenges of COVID-19, which led the President of CFM, Zulfi Karim, to say, “Sadly, this terrible disease has had a devastating impact on the city we all love and are proud to call home. Our burial capacity has been fully stretched, with the burials team under a substantial mental and physical burden. Yet, they have quietly done what has been asked of them in a dignified manner, respecting the wishes of the families concerned. It is a testament to their efforts that every burial has been undertaken within 24 hours of the request – and this is a fitting award for their work.”

On CfM reaching its 40th anniversary, Karim told The Muslim News the council “owes its longevity to its ability to effectively respond to the issues of the day affecting the local Muslim community. One of the biggest achievements of the organisation is to remain inclusive of all the Islamic denominations in the district.”

Outside of the Muslim community, Karim said, “CFM recognises the importance of interfaith relations and we are proud of the positive relationships and understanding we have developed over the years. There are countless occasions where we have stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder with other faith groups, in the spirit of solidarity and support for one another, in the face of hostility and adversity.”

He also paid tribute to the “passionate and dedicated stream of volunteers.” Thanks to the “support from our partners” for helping the council meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic “head-on.” Bradford Council Leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, congratulating CfM on its achievements, said it was “important to acknowledge the efforts and work that CFM has done”.

“It is a strong institution who have come together and agreed in a unified voice and made sure they are heard. It is a beacon of not only community in Bradford but also for the country,” Cllr Hinchcliffe told The Muslim News.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, congratulated the founder of CFM on “your resilience to get to the 40-year mark” and the key achievement on “community development and making ourselves better from what we learnt from Covid and what we learnt from the last 40 years.”


The COVID-19 responses from seven mosques were also commended:

Al Markaz ul Islami Bradford, for adopting ‘best practices’ in implementing COVID-19 safety measures.
Bradford Central Mosque, for re-purposing its facilities to act as both a bereavement hub at the peak of the pandemic and also as a mass vaccination centre.

JKN Outreach, for supporting the homeless and rough sleepers in the district and distributing food parcels.
Keighley Central Mosque, for partnering with GPs to create a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Madni Masjid, Bradford, for delivering protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and other healthcare supplies, to those in need.

Masjid Quba, Bradford, for compiling and delivering food parcels to those in need in the community.
Shah Jalal Masjid, Keighley, for its innovative communications to convey the Hands, Face, Space message.

In conversation with Iffat Tejani, founder of Evolve – the Cycling Network for Muslim Women

(Photo courtesy of Iffat Tejani)

Iffat Tejani, 48, is a British Cycling Breeze Champion, British Cycling Level 1 Coach and trainee Level 2; she is the co-founder of Evolve Cycling Network. She is also on the board of trustees with Harrow Cycle Hub and in partnership with Harrow Cycle hub who have trained over 50 women to ride. Evolve held its first sportive for Muslim women, from Harrow to Windsor, consisting of 60 riders from the age of 16-65, completing the 37 and 50 miles route. Being a two time breast cancer survivor, she is keen to build Evolve – The Cycling Network for Muslim Women. The aim of Evolve is to diversify cycling and make it more inclusive within Muslim Communities.

Sport England data shows that only 10 per cent of female cyclists are from minority ethnic groups. Why do you think that is?

Cycling is considered a white man’s sport or ‘men in lycra’. Coming from an ethnic background, there is a fear of acceptance combined with the fear of falling and physically hurting yourself. The lack of female coaches whom we can relate to plays a big role in our absence from the cycling sport. The fear of acceptance is like the unacknowledged elephant in the room.

Quite often, we don’t think we are good enough to cycle. It is changing, very quickly, with the formation of Evolve, Cycle Sisters, Joy Riders and Women of Colour Cycling. We are increasing the number of female cyclists from ethnic minority communities. The governing body of British Cycling has also formed a diversity and inclusion advisory group to address and increase the number of female cyclists and cyclists from ethnic minority communities.

How did you get into cycling?

I did not know how to ride a bike as a child. I grew up in East Africa, and we just didn’t cycle. I learnt to cycle at the age of 37, and it was a diagnosis of cancer that woke me up. I have always been sporty. My husband cycles, and my kids do too. I always sat on the sidelines watching them. After the diagnosis, I really wanted to make a change, I wrote a bucket list.

Cycling and swimming were at the top of my list. As soon as my radiotherapy finished, I started searching for lessons, and I couldn’t find a coach – this is going back 10 years – until Google unearthed a St John’s ambulance driver who taught me.

After learning I started to join Breeze rides – which are a women-only branch of British Cycling that takes women out on rides all over the country – and kept on thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a cycling group for Muslim women where we could cycle, exchange ideas and break down barriers? That is when the idea of creating a cycle network of women was formed. It took me a long time to form this group as I had a relapse a couple of years ago, unfortunately.

How many members does Evolve have?

Evolve has got 183 members, of which 100 are women and the rest are children aged 5 to 17.

What are the benefits of joining a cycling club?

The sense of belonging leads to kinship, people with whom you can share a slice of cake. A cycling club gives you an umbrella, a safety net and access to classes, rides and competitions alongside fellow members who share your passion, and where you can develop as a rider. This – very interestingly – also brings a sense of confidence into other aspects of a rider’s life.

Figures from Sport England showed that the number of cyclists in the first lockdown (beginning of April untill the end of May 2020) more than doubled, but that lockdown created perfect conditions for newbie cyclists as fewer motorists were on the road. Now that traffic is back to its usual busy level, how big a hurdle is road safety in reassuring Muslim women to cycle, especially when adding fears of Islamophobia and road rage to the mix?

Lockdown brought a boom in cycling, not only for women, but for men as well. I was at the diversity and cycling workshop hosted by TFL London and British Cycling to look at how we could improve the cycling experience for all women, especially when we wear the hijab, as we are very visible. The fear of road rage affects all cyclists, not only women.

There are lots of things being considered right now on how to improve our infrastructure which could segregate the cycling lanes, educate our riders, how we could provide the “bike-ability” training for adults to make them safe on the road.

There are lots of low-traffic neighbourhoods where you can take these roads to take you away from the main busy roads. There is a lot of work happening with TFL, British Cycling and several councils on how to improve infrastructure so that more people feel safe to commute by bike.

What advice do you have for Muslim women considering cycling but intimidated by the idea, particularly older ladies who may feel their opportunity has passed?

Get in touch with us! There are a lot of clubs out there, Cycle Sisters, Women of Colour. There are a lot of lessons run by councils. We are all trained as British Cycling level 1 and Level 2 coaches, and we are trained to teach you how to get comfortable on your bikes. The whole art of cycling is broken down into bite-size chunks. We are not going to get you pedalling until we feel you are confident in balancing yourself.

There are a lot of distraction techniques where we can get you pedalling without you realising. When we did our first Muslim Women Sportive – a ride of 37/50 mile ride from Harrow to Windsor, our oldest lady to complete was 65-year-old Fauzia Teja who had just learned to cycle a couple of months before. As we break down each skill, and they conquer it, that inspires confidence in the process and age, for us, is just a number.

Besides founding Evolve Cycling Network, are there any other clubs that you have supported? Could you give a few tips to other Muslim women interested in launching cycling clubs in their area?

Evolve has been blessed to be partnered up with Harrow Cycle Hub in providing services to all our communities in Harrow.

The support and the learning offered in this partnership has been instrumental in Evolve’s success. We have gone on to support the launch of Hyderi Nisa Sport Cycling Club in Streatham among others. If you are interested in launching a club, please get in touch, and we will put you in contact with British Cycling club officers, delivery managers who work with certain sections who can get you going.

Please do get in touch with us, and we can see how we can help you. At Evolve we say it starts with the first pedal, the first ride, the first puncture repair. To anyone embarking on their cycling journey, just take the first step towards it, the rest will naturally follow. Never doubt your strength.

Interview by Elham Asaad Buaras

Third vigil held for murdered teacher

Home Correspondent

A third vigil has been held for murdered primary school teacher Sabina Nessa earlier this month. About 200 people gathered in Eastbourne in East Sussex where her murder suspect was arrested. Attendees paid tribute to Nessa and protested the “crisis” of violence against women on October 5.

A verse from the Qur’an was read out in front of the town’s Victorian pier at about 7 pm as those gathered paused in thoughtful reflection. The vigil ended with a minute’s silence, and people shone their phones’ lights.

Around 8:30 pm on September 17, Nessa reportedly walked to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Pegler Square.

Nessa’s body was found in Cator Park in Kidbrooke the next day under a pile of leaves by a dog walker.
Nessa was attacked moments after leaving her home, according to a police source. The assailant is believed to have then carried Nessa to Cator Park over his shoulder.

Nessa’s family said they were “shocked” by the killing. In a statement, her sister Jebina Yasmin Islam said, “There are no words to describe how we [her family] are feeling at the moment. We did not expect that something like this would ever happen to us. I urge everyone to walk on busy streets when walking home from work, school or a friend’s home. Please keep safe. I ask you to pray for our sister and make dua (supplication) for her.

May Allah grant her paradise.”
Nessa’s killing occurred in the run-up to the sentencing of police officer Wayne Couzens, who raped, murdered and burned the body of Sarah Everard in March. Everard’s murder caused protests up and down the country over yet another attack by a man against a woman walking alone.Speaking to those gathered on the seafront, co-organiser Natasha Peacock said, “Sabina Nessa should still be alive. She was loved and she will be deeply missed.”

Many of those attending held pictures of Nessa, while others carried signs calling out male violence or remembering fellow femicide victim Sarah Everard.

Peacock continued: “Women are frightened for their lives. We are having to consider the risk of going out alone past 6 pm and potentially getting attacked, raped or murdered and the advice to flag down a bus does not make us feel safe. “This is a crisis. We need to make the safety of women and girls a priority.”

The Femicide Census collected statistics on men’s violence against women in the ten years leading up to 2018. This equates to around one killing every three days in the UK.

The vigil in Eastbourne is the third to be held for Nessa.
Muslim women-led a community rally was organised at the Maryam Centre in East London Mosque demanding justice for murdered Nessa a month ago. Speakers at the event included women leaders from the Muslim community and guest speakers from women’s and community organisations, as well as Nessa’s uncle Shahin Miah, who said the family was “devastated” and “distraught” by her murder. Hours later, over 500 people gathered on Pegler Square, near where Nessa and the suspect were captured on CCTV.

Koci Selamaj, 36, from Eastbourne, was arrested on September 26 in connection with the killing and has appeared at the Old Bailey. The Old Bailey proceedings heard that Nessa was repeatedly struck with a two-foot-long weapon. The court has heard that the defendant will deny the killing. A plea hearing has been set for December 16.

Religious groups betray children

Home Correspondent

Children in religious institutions in England and Wales, including madrasahs, Sunday schools, are vulnerable to sexual abuse as a result of cultures of victim-blaming, abuse of power, and distrust of external authorities, according to a report released on September 2.

The report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), found evidence of “egregious failings” and highlighted the hypocrisy of religions that purport to teach right from wrong, yet fail to protect children.

The findings, based on over two weeks of public hearings held last year, concluded there was “no doubt that the sexual abuse of children takes place in a broad range of religious settings”.

In its investigation, IICSA examined child protection practices in 38 religious organizations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and nonconformist Christian groups.

The organisations had “significant or even dominant influence on the lives of millions of children”, the inquiry’s report said. “What marks religious organisations out from other institutions is the explicit purpose they have in teaching right from wrong; the moral turpitude of any failing by them in the prevention of, or response to, child sexual abuse is therefore heightened.”

It added, “Freedom of religion and belief can never justify or excuse the ill‐treatment of a child, or a failure to take adequate steps to protect them from harm.”

The report followed earlier investigations into the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches that detailed widespread abuse and cover-ups.Among the cases cited in the report were those of a girl who was abused and raped at a madrasah between the ages of eight and 11. After disclosing the abuse, she was called a “slag” by others in the community.

Another case concerned three children abused by Todros Grynhaus, a prominent member of the Haredi Jewish community in Manchester, who was sent by his rabbi for counselling after allegations were made. Grynhaus was eventually convicted and jailed.

The local minister of a girl abused by a volunteer at a Methodist church did not provide any support following her disclosure.

A girl who was abused between the ages of four and nine by a “ministerial servant” with the Jehovah’s Witnesses after Bible study sessions later brought a civil claim against the religious organisation. It was defended by the Jehovah’s Witnesses despite a separate conviction against the perpetrator.

The IICSA report, said there was likely to be a significant under-reporting of child sexual abuse in religious organisations and settings. Organisational and cultural barriers to reporting child sexual abuse within religious organisations and settings were common, said the report.

They include blaming victims rather than perpetrators, reluctance to discuss issues around sex and sexuality, excessive deference and respect shown to religious leaders, and a mistrust of Government and external bodies.

The report recommends that all religious organisations have a child protection policy. It also calls for legislative changes to allow for the official scrutiny of child protection policies in unregistered educational institutions.

Alexis Jay, Chair of the inquiry, said: “Religious organisations are defined by their moral purpose of teaching right from wrong and protection of the innocent and the vulnerable. However, when we heard about shocking failures to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse across almost all major religions, it became clear many are operating in direct conflict with this mission.

“Blaming the victims, fears of reputational damage and discouraging external reporting are some of the barriers victims and survivors face, as well as clear indicators of religious organisations prioritising their own reputations above all else. For many, these barriers have been too difficult to overcome.”

“Today’s report confirms that some religious groups have catastrophically failed to ensure the safety of the children in their care,” said Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon. He added,

“It is clear from the report that too many religious organisations continue to prioritise the protection, reputation and authority of religious leaders above the rights of children. In the light of today’s report, the arguments for mandatory reporting and independent oversight of religious bodies are overwhelming.”

The Muslim Council of Britain said: “The protection of children is rooted in our religious traditions and should be at the centre of all Muslim institutions… Crucially, children must feel confident in reporting any concerns they have.”

The Methodist church said it was “truly sorry” where it was failing children. “We will continue to review and improve our support to victims and survivors and we apologise where this has not happened as it should have done,” said the Rev Jonathan Hustler.

IICSA highlighted concerns that the law currently does not define religious leaders as holding a “position of trust” within child protection law. However, the inquiry did not make a finding requiring this to change. A final report following more than a dozen investigations is due next year.

2021 GCSE & A-Level honour roll

Zenab Khulaten (left) from The Urswick School in Hackney, East London celebrates her excellent A-level results


The Muslim News presents a sample of over 160 Muslim students from across the country who have excelled in their GCSE, A-levels and equivalent exams this year. Results are obtained directly from colleges and schools, who were instructed to secure student /parental permission before submitting them.

Key: Results are presented in the following order: grade (no of times it was achieved). An example would be 4 (x6) for a grade four achieved six times. Note: 4 is a standard pass and 5 is a strong pass.




Al-Hikmah Secondary School, Luton, LU1 1EH,

GCSE: Adam Gafoor 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x2), 6 (x2).

Amna Ali 9, 8 (x4), 7 (x2).

Ayma Asim 9 (x4), 8, 7.

Hafsa Ikbal 9, 8 (x2), 7 (x4).

Musa Meer 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x4).

Sara Omer 9 (x3), 8, 6 (x3).

Sumayyah Ali 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x3).

Tasnima Tanzida Rahman 9, 8 (x4), 7 (x2).


Hockerill Anglo – European College, Herts, CM23 5HX,

GCSE: Callum Abouharb 9 (x4), 8 (x2), 7 (x3).

Shahadat Ullah 9 (x8), 8 (x2).

International Baccalaureate: Sameer Hussain 6 (x5), 7.


Iqra Academy, Peterborough, PE3 8YQ, G

CSE: Maha Qadir 9 (x3), 8 (x4), 7 (x3).

Saba Pevaiz9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x5).

Zainab Mahmood 8 (x4), 7 (x6).

Zubaria Sarwar 9 (x2), 8, 7 (x2), 6 (x4).


Putteridge High School, Luton LU2 8HJ:

A-level: Ismael Rahman A.

GCSE: Harris Ramos 9 (x8), 8 (x3).

Ismael Rahman 9 (x5), 8 (x3), 6.


The Marlborough Science Academy, St Albans, AL1 2QA,

A-level: Faaizah Fazal A.

GCSE: Akbar Ali 9 (x5), 8 (x2), 7, 5.


Queen Elizabeth School, Luton, LU2 9AG,

GCSE: Fahima Hussain 9 (x3), 8 (x6), A*.

Gulia Badirova 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x3), Distinction*, A*.

Hafsah Fabeeha 9, 8, 7 (x5), 6, Merit.

Hassan Sajjad 9, 8 (x5), 7 (x2), 6 (x2), Distinction.

Humera Khalil 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7, 6, 5 (x2), Distinction.

Ievgeniia Saliutina 9 (x2), 8 (x3), 7 (x4), 6 (x2).

Lamar Al Gharbeh 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7 (x4), Distinction.

Mahima Islam 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7, A*.

Maisha Chowdhury 9 (x3), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), Distinction.

Manvita Myadaram 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7, Distinction.

Rushna Chowdhury 8 (x5), 7 (x3), 6, Distinction*.

Saima Munim 9, 8 (x3), 7 (x3), 6, A*.

Umme-Umarah Ali 9 (x3), 8 (x5), Distinction*, Distinction.

Zoya Imran 8 (x3), 7 (x6), A*.




Acland Burghley School, Camden, NW5 1UJ,

A Levels: Maisha Begum B (x3).

Nazeah Begum B (x2), C.

Sihaam Koshin A, B, C. Tania Sultana A*, A (x2).

A-level/BTEC: Ardit Konjuhi Distinction*, Distinction, B.

afis Maqsud Muhib Distinction, Merit, C.

Reham Mohamed Distinction*, Distinction, C. GCSE:

Marwa Chowdhury – 6 (x6), 5 (x2), 4.

Yousif Kasim – 7, 6 (x3), 5 (x5)


Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School, Southall, UB1 1LR,

GCSE: Amira Ahmed 8 (x7), 7 (x2), 6.

Mamuna Bhatti 9, 8 (x7), 7 (x2).


Beacon High, Islington, N7 0JG,

GCSE: Ayman Mohamud 8, 7 (x3), 6 (x4), 5.

Caner Karakoc 8, 7 (x6), 6 (x2), 4.

Ismaaeel Ismaaeel 8 (x4), 7 (x4), 6.

Mahir Hussain 8 (x2), 7 (x3), 6, 5 (x2), 4.

Mujahid Choudhury 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7, 6 (x2), 5 (x2).

Yusuf Uddin 8 (x8), 7.


Bullers Wood School, Chislehurst, BR7 5LJ,

A Level: Zeina Rady A* (x2), A, C.

GCSE: Ece Cenkci 8 (x2), 7 (x5), 6, 5 (x2).

Ipek Kilic 9 (x2), 8 (x7), 7, 6.

Khadijah Muhammad-Kamal 8 (x4), 7 (x2), 6 (x2), 5 (x2).

Leena Benaboud: 9 (x3), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), Distinction* BTEC.


Eastlea Community School, Newham, E16 4NP,

GCSE: Fairooza Saptashi 9, 8 (x4), 7 (x4).

Nosrat Nisad 9, 8 (x2), 7 (x5), 9 (x2).

Safwan Tazwar 9 (x3), 8, 7 (x5), 6.

Sakib Hoque 9 (x7), 8, 7 (x3).

Zahia Amokrane 9 (x4), 8 (x5), 7 (x2), 6.

Zaynab Khan-Phatan 9 (x8), 8, 7.


Forest Hill School, Lewisham, SE23 2XN,

GCSE: Adrian Gashi 8 (x5), 7 (x4), Level 2 Pass.

Ismael Hoque 8 (x2), 6 (x3), 5 (x2), 4, Level 2 Pass.

Nasim Ali 9, 7 (x3), 6 (x4), Level 2 Merit.

Shabir Ahmed 9 (x2), 8, 7 (x2), 6 (x4), 5.

Yad Amir 9 (x5), 8 (x3), 7 (x2).

Yusef Santaniello 8 (x3), 7 (x2), 6 (x3), 5.


London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, N17 0BX

A-level: Ibrahim Umer A* (x3).

Zubaydah Ali A* (x4).


Pinner High School, Pinner, HA5 1NB,

GCSE: Aadam Khan 9 (x4), 8 (x2), 7 (x3), 5.

Aaron Ali 9 (x7), 8 (x2), 5.

Abu-Hurairah Sohail 9 (x5), 8 (x3), 7 (x2).

Armaan Rahman 9 (x3), 8 (x5), 7.

Mina Safi 9 (x5), 8 (x3), 7 (x3).

Nabil Arabi 9 (x6), 8 (x4).

Najah Nauman 9 (x3), 8 (x6).

Saad Javeed 9 (x6), 8, 7 (x3).

Talhat Al Jibawi 9 (x9), 8.

Zain Khan 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7 (x2).


Regent High School, Camden, NW1 1RX

A-levels: Abdirahman Ahmed A* (x2), A.

Anisha Begum A*, B, C.

Faharzana Chowdhury Distinction* (x3).

Habiba Khanom Distinction* (x2), B.

Hamza Yousif A*, (x3) B.

Hewa Barcag Distinction* (x2), Distinction.

Intisar Ahmed Distinction* (x2), Distinction.

Mehjabin Chowdhury A*, B (x2).

Mohammed Abidul Islam Distinction (x3).

Mohboub Shah A*, A, B.

Zahara Matin A*, B (x2).

Zarin Ali A*, B (x2).

GCSE: Elias Zemry 9 (x3), 8 (x5), 7, 4.

Faiza Khan 9 (x3), 8 (x4), 6 (x2).

Fatima Ahmed 9 (x3), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), 5.

Fiona Pacolli 9 (x5), 8 (x4).7

Labiba Ahmed 9 (x4), 8 (x3), 7, 5.

Maryam Abdul 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), 6.

Mustapha Blain 9 (x5), 8 (x4), 5.

Saira Begum 9 (x8), 8 (x3).

Samam Harun 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7 (x3), 6.

Samsam Abdinasir 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), 6.


Tawhid Boys School, London, N16 6PA,

GCSE: Abu Bakr Snell 9 (x5), 8 (x4), 7, 6.

Aliabdurahman Abdulkadir 9, 8 (x5), 7 (x4).

Musa Ahmed Faruq 9 (x5), 8 (x2), 7 (x2), 6 (x2).

rince Nasim Ermis 9 (x6), 8 (x3), 7 (x2).


The Urswick School, Hackney, E9 6NR,

A-levels: Aicha Jatta A (x2), B. Hussain Miah A, B (x2).

Ilham Khulaten A*, A (x2), B. Zenab Khulaten A*, A (x2), C.

GCSE: Ehssan Rahman 8, 7 (x2), 6 (x4), 4 (x2).

Serhan Bay 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7 (x2), 5.

Thureya Abdallah 7, 6 (x4), 5 (x4).




Al-Burhan Grammar School, Birmingham, B11 3DW,

GCSE: Aneeqa Ahmed 9 (x4), 8 (x6), 7 (x2).

Anisa Hussain 7 (x4), 6 (x3), 5 (x3).

Emira Jaouadi 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7 (x2).

Halima Illahi 9, 8 (x2), 7 (x5), 6 (x2).

Iman Waseem 7 (x3), 6 (x3), 5 (x4).

Malaika Amjad 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7 (x3).

Nafisah Khanum 8, 7 (x4), 6 (x4).

Rania Nasir 7 (x2), 6 (x3), 5 (x2).

Rumaysaa Mohamed 8 (x4), 7 (x4), 6 (x2).

Saima Mahmood 7 (x2), 6 (x5), 5 (x3).

Saliha Abideen 8 (x2), 7 (x3), 6 (x4).

Salma Wasfy 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7, A*.

Tabeer Asif 9 (x7), 8 (x3).

Umme-Jannat Abbas 8, 7 (x2), 6 (x5).

Zaara Islam 8 (x2), 7 (x2), 6 (x4).


Moulton School & Science College, Northampton, NN3 7SD,

A-level: SabahYusuf A* (x2), B.

Uzzain Hussain A*, A (x2).

GCSE: Ashfaque Ahmed 9 (x3), 8, 7 (x3), 4


The Cedars Academy, Leicester, LE4 4GH,

GCSE: Faizaan Mehmood 7 (x4), 6 (x2), 5.




Bournemouth School for Girls, Bournemouth, BH8 9UJ,

A-level: Rand Haimour A* (x3).

Sarah Boukerdoun A (x3).

GCSE: Ameliyah Khadijah 9 (x3), 8 (x7), 7.

Maryam Rahmati 8 (x4), 7 (x4), 6 (x3).

Nesrine El-Mourabit 9 (x3), 8 (x5), 7 (x2).


Chenderit School, Banbury, OX17 2QR,

A-level: Rahman Aliza A, B, D.

GCSE: Mubashir Hussain 7 (x2), 6 (x2).


City Academy Bristol, Bristol, BS5 9JH,

GCSE: Ridita Hussain 9 (x2), 8 (x2), 7 (x4), 6 (A-level) A.

Saiful Rahim Nasrin 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7, 6


Futures Institute Banbury, Banbury, OX16 9HY,

GCSE: Ameera Irfan 9 (x2), 7 (x3), 6, 5, Level 2 Distinction, Level 2 Pass.

Hashaam Khan 8 (x3), 6 (x2), 5(x2), Level 2 Distinction (x2).


Slough & Eton CoE Business & Enterprise College, Slough, SL1 2PU,

A-levels: Hibah Khan: A* (x2), A.

Zubair Basharat, A* (x2), A.

GCSE: Aaminah Rafiq 9 (x4), Distinction*, 8 (x2), 7 (x3).

Abbad Tahir, 9 (x2), 8 (x4), 7, 6 (x2).

Alizeh Noon 9 (x4), 8 (x2), 7, 6 (x2), 5.

Muhammad Isan, 9 (x4), 8 (x3), 7, 6 (x2).

Rameen Ahmed 9, 8 (x5), 7 (x2), 6, 4.

Zakayah Zia 9, 8 (x8), 5.


St John’s College, Southsea, PO5 3QW,

GCSE: Malek Roostaei 9 (x4), 8 (x6), 7.


Wykham Park Academy, Banbury, OX16 9HY,

A-level: Muhammed Shaheer Younus A*, A, B. Maha Sadka A*, A (x2).

Rahmat Tariq A, B, Merit.

GCSE: Nisa Bayezit 7 (x7), 8, Level 2 Distinction.




Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, HX7 5QN,

GCSE: Aleena Shazail 9 (x3), 8 (x2), 7 (x3), 6 (x2).

Zeeshan Younis 7 (x2), 6 (x2).


Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, S21 2BB,

GCE: Makaeel Atif Saleem A* (x2), A (x2).

Mohammed Adam Khan A* (x2), A, epq also at A*.

GCSE: Ahmed Elwan 9 (x2), 8 (x6), 7 (x2), 6.

Wahab Atif Saleem 9 (x4), 8 (x4), 7 (x2).

Yara Alhajji 9 (x2), 8 (x3), 7 (x3), 6, D2, GCE B.

20 years on: 9/11 reflections of American Muslims

Bisharat Khan, Ali Khan, Shabir R Bata and (below) Eddie Rodriguez

Sarah Sakeena Marshall

When the first plane hit, everyone thought it was an accident caused by an inexperienced pilot operating a small plane. When the second plane hit, onlookers knew it had to be on purpose. America was being attacked. No one knew why. Many people still do not know why. As the world sat glued to the television, planes were grounded, tears were shed, and fear ran through the veins of a nation. Muslims all around the country thought, please don’t let the perpetrators be Muslims.

The “post-9/11 world” ushered in the “War on Terror”, fought by increased security checks at airports, erosion of privacy and attacks on non-uniformed terrorist suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq. 9/11 united Americans in grief and Western allies together in revenge. The Muslim News interviewed American Muslims living in New York during the time of the attacks to understand their experience and how their lives changed after that heinous attack that took almost 3,000 lives, many of them Muslims.

Bisharat Khan, 86

Bisharat was a chemist working for the US Customs Service in the World Trade Centre 6 on September 11, 2001, when he saw a flash of blue light and heard an explosion. He looked out of the window and saw people staring at the North Tower and running away. He heard debris hitting the roof of the 8-story building he was in, which, unbeknownst to him, had caught fire.

He was in the lab where he tested products arriving in the US from all over the world to make sure they were authentic, not harmful to consumers and complied with American regulations. He and his fellow employees had had many prior evacuation drills, and after evacuating the building, they went to meet by the Hudson River for a headcount.

Then, they saw the second plane hit the South Tower. Chaos ensued and the team decided it would be wiser to leave than to wait for everyone to be accounted for. They needed to let their loved ones know they were OK and to find a way home. Public transportation had been halted, so Bisharat walked for miles before reaching the Queensboro Bridge.

When he looked back, he saw, in shock that the towers, always a beacon in the distance, were gone. When he arrived home, his wife was relieved, and Bisharat started watching the news, praying that Muslims were not involved in the attack. When he learned that they were, he reminisced in horror about the partition in India he had lived through as a 12-year-old boy, where he saw Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus being slaughtered in the streets.

Bisharat feared for his family, worried there would be major repercussions for Muslims in America. Soon, his neighbours came to see if he was okay, knowing that he worked in the World Trade Center. They reassured him that nothing bad would happen to him or his family.

Bisharat says he feels blessed to have always had good neighbours everywhere he lived in the US— California, Arizona, Colorado and New York. Still, in the days following the tragedy, he continued to feel fear.

Once, while Bisharat was getting the mail, a truck in his neighbourhood stopped and revved the engine, but Bisharat experienced nothing else that he would consider Islamophobic. In fact, due to the September 11 attacks, US Customs came under the purview of a newly formed department in the US Government: The Department of Homeland Security, and Bisharat continued his work as a petroleum chemist, doing his part to keep Americans safe.

Ali Khan, 40

At the time of the attacks, Bisharat’s son, Ali, 20 years old, was at the doctor’s office getting a physical. A song on the radio was interrupted to announce that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

The announcement sounded nonchalant, so Ali assumed it must have been an accident involving a small private jet. By the time he got to the lab where he was interning, everyone was huddled around the radio, hearing that one of the towers had fallen. He immediately called his mother to make sure his father had got out. When Ali found out that a second plane had crashed and knew that the incident could not have been an accident, he prayed that Muslim extremists were not responsible.

Ali felt there were already so many misconceptions about Muslims in America, and that they were often portrayed negatively in the media, and he feared retaliation against his people.

In the weeks and months following the attacks, Ali heard of Muslims and Sikhs being targeted around the country, but he had a very strong support group of friends, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who were understanding of his situation. He never felt threatened.

While Ali never experienced Islamophobia himself, his friend was nearly attacked one night while getting food at Taco Bell, but others at the restaurant defended him against the aggressors. A Sikh family the Khans knew received threatening hate mail telling them to “go back to their country.”

Ali has never felt attacked or targeted for being Muslim. He feels privileged to live in the US where he can practise his religion freely, but admits that his experience may have a lot to do with the fact that he lives in New York City, a diverse city with a good education system. Without generalizing, he believes his post-9/11 experience may have been different elsewhere, especially if he were in America’s Deep South.

Ali says that 9/11 forced him to become more confident and knowledgeable about Islam to correct people’s misconceptions about the religion and to clarify what certain things meant. He found it particularly upsetting to see mainstream news programs taking Qur’an verses out of context to claim that Islam is a “hateful” religion.

After the attacks, Ali says his Muslim community felt solidarity with Americans and made a point to say that they did not support what the extremists had done, and did not stand with terrorist groups like Al Qaida. He says, “We didn’t feel like ‘this is us versus them’ or anything like that. We were all Americans at that point. And we were. We felt the same emotion, the same level of shock, the same level of anger and sadness.”

On what the future holds for Islam, Ali says that the religion continues to spread and that more people have become curious about what it truly stands for, which he believes is a positive thing because, “sometimes people fear what they don’t understand so if something differs from you or what you’re used to, you’re not open to it, you’re fearful of it, and some people have that mentality.”

Mohamed Hasham, 40

In 2001, Mohamed was a 20-year-old student attending university in Midtown Manhattan. The Twin Towers were hit while he was on the subway. As he transferred stations, an announcement came on stating that because of an investigation at the World Trade Center, trains would not be going to that station. Mohamed thought nothing of it but when he got out of the station, the smoke had already filled the air. As per usual, he went to the pre-med club and found his classmates huddled around a radio. The moment he walked through the door, before he even understood what had happened, one of his classmates angrily approached him and said, “Are you happy about what your people did?”

The student continued to accusingly berate him before one of Mohamed’s friends got between the two and told the student to back off. Mohamed soon understood what was happening, and his first reaction was anger—anger at the fact that Muslim terrorists were again doing things that smeared all Muslims, and anger at the student accusing him of sympathizing with them. From that day on, things were never the same between Mohamed and the angry student. He says that in such moments, “You really find out who your true friends are. They stood up for me. They stood up for Muslims.” His first exposure to the tragedy of 9/11 was someone marching up to him, casting blame still sticks with him.

Soon after hearing the news, the pre-med students went to find a place where they could donate blood. On the streets, they found shell-shocked pedestrians in a daze. Lines for blood donation centres snaked around buildings as smoke from the collapsed towers filled the air. The students tried to volunteer at Ground Zero but were barred from doing so because the situation was too dangerous.

Eventually, they headed home. They were all commuters, and with public transportation systems in downtown halted, it would be a trek. Mohamed walked a long way to the bus depot and eventually got on a bus that was normally packed with commuters, only to find that he was the only passenger.

The streets were empty. Everything felt eerie. Mohamed finally reached home in the evening. His family was in shock. They all were in disbelief at what had happened. Then the fear set in—fear of retaliation. After all, before he even knew what was going on he had been verbally attacked by someone he had thought was his friend.

In the months after 9/11, Mohamed and his brother carried baseball bats to retrieve their mother from her job in Long Island because she had been verbally abused and threatened on the street. Mohamed has never felt that he was the victim of Islamophobia, other than being scrutinised more closely at the airport. He lives in an open, accepting community. He is happy to see Muslims in Congress, something he never expected.

While the aftermath of 9/11 brought out some of the best in people—unity, solidarity, comfort—he also saw the worst in people—discrimination, accusation, misdirected hatred. Regarding the war that started in response to the attacks, he hopes that the American troops who deployed learned that, “the civilians in Afghanistan were just people that were trying to survive and live their lives and have their families and watch them grow up and get educated… just normal people that wanted to live good lives for themselves and for their families.”

Aateqa E., 39

In 2001, Aateqa was a 19-year-old university student living in Long Island. On Tuesdays, she volunteered at a hospital in the city. As she got out of the subway station on 9/11, she saw that the first tower had been hit. There was smoke everywhere and then we watched the second plane crash into the South Tower. Not knowing what to do, she made her way to the hospital. When she arrived, she helped move patients out of the ER, as they were expecting a flood of patients to the trauma unit. Sadly, they did not receive many patients because there were so few survivors, but some came in with burns. Aateqa’s hospital was far enough away from the towers that she did not see the panic of people fleeing the scene, but when her shift ended and she made her way home, she looked up and saw a hole in the sky where the towers used to stand.

In the attack’s aftermath, Aateqa says she did not feel discriminated against, as she kept a diverse group of friends and did not wear hijab, which allowed her to “blend in” to the multicultural city. While she and her family often got pulled out of line at the airport for extra screenings and had all of their bags inspected, after writing a letter to the proper authorities, this treatment stopped. Aateqa does recall that someone once yelled, “go back to your country!” to her aunt who was visiting, but that was the extent of the Islamophobia.

She feels that living in major cities has coloured her experience as a Muslim in America, and she believes things would probably be different if she travelled to a less diverse place.

Reflecting on 20 years since the attack, Aateqa says, “I think these 20 years has made a difference and people have probably realized there is a big difference between your neighbour who’s Muslim and the terrorist who claims he’s Muslim.” She hopes that as Afghan refugees move to different parts of the US, that with exposure, people will continue to be more accepting of Muslims.

Shabir R Bata, 69,

Shabir was supposed to be onboard American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston bound for Los Angeles on September 11, 2001. However, as this day was their wedding anniversary, his wife, Fatim, rang him that he should be with her on September 11 to celebrate their anniversary. So Shabir took a flight on September 10 to return home to Los Angeles. His two co-workers took the scheduled flight on September 11.

Shabir, who was a supply chain manager, relates what happened. “It was devastating when I realised I was supposed to be on that flight. My co-workers perished and I walked away. The entire day felt like a bad dream, but I remember thanking God that he had spared me, yet I felt so guilty that I was spared.”

Fatim told The Muslim News she was “in shock” when she watched TV and saw the flight “my husband had missed thanks to a date! I’ve never been so grateful in my life, but it was still traumatic to think of the what if’s. I remember Shabir coming home and constant calls from co-workers. We spent a silent evening with our children in gratitude.”

“It was devastating for us as he went through survivor guilt,” Fatim said.


War in Afghanistan, from a veteran’s perspective

Eddie Rodriguez, 37

Eddie Rodriguez was a 17-year-old living in the Bronx when the Twin Towers got hit on 9/11. He could see the smoke from his apartment, and at first, he did not think much of it, but once the second plane hit, he suspected it was terrorists from the Middle East. He knew that in the early ‘90s another bombing had taken place in the parking garage of the World Trade Center, and was carried out by Muslim extremists. In the aftermath of the attacks, he observed that people may have seemed against Islam simply because they did not understand it, stating, “Not understanding something can create a fear for anyone, and at that point, no one knew why we were being attacked.”

As a patriotic person, Eddie was galvanized to join the Army a few years later. After 3 deployments in Afghanistan (2008, 2012 & 2020), working with locals, and learning more about Islam, Eddie converted to Islam. He had been raised Catholic but felt that Islam was a beautiful religion that aligned well with his conservative values. He says, “I just appreciate the conservative side of the religion. I think if it’s done well, it’s meant to help other people.”

His tours in Afghanistan taught him a lot that he feels has been left out of the mainstream media. He says, “After a while, I came to realize that the war that we were fighting wasn’t really a war against terrorism, it was a war against ignorance, it was a war against illiteracy, it was a war against the fact that the Taliban were taking advantage of the people who were illiterate.” As time progressed, Taliban fighters were increasingly infiltrating the Afghan National Army to carry out “green on blue” attacks, killing American soldiers on their base.

Eddie believes that education was the most difficult aspect of building the Afghan army because it was hard to train people who had not received much, or any, formal education. He believes that it takes much longer than 20 years to build up a viable army and that the US military has a long history, with proven systems that have been in place for generations. Still, Eddie believes that the war in Afghanistan was not in vain because the troops kept America from being attacked for the 20 years they were there.

On the 9/11 attack 20 years on, Eddie says that it is a tender spot for him and all New Yorkers. He does not believe it will be the last time Al Qaida attacks the US and feels that US security and borders should be strengthened.

While he is glad to be helping Afghan refugees, he has heard reports of some that were transported to a military base in Germany and were then found to have ties to the Taliban. He believes it is important to be very vigilant in these turbulent times, and that America should continue to have a presence around the world to prevent future atrocities.

Schools lack resources to tackle extremism, study finds

Hamed Chapman

Teachers across England are not being given the time, training or resources to teach pupils about violent and ‘hateful’ extremism while schools believe instead that the Government expects them to focus on seeking out and reporting pupils thought to be at risk of radicalisation, according to a new study.

Current teaching about extremism in UK schools was found to be ‘highly variable’, and in some cases ‘superficial’ and ‘tokenistic’, research carried out by UCL Institute of Education reported.

Much anti-extremism work in schools is ‘stymied by overcrowded curricula, lack of resources, a desire to perform policy for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skill (Ofsted) and a mandate to detect and report any vulnerability to radicalisation rather than necessarily stamp out its root causes’, it warned.

Responding to the Addressing Extremism Through the Classroom study, the National Education Union called on the Government to provide schools with much more support, training and resources as well as space in the curriculum to tackle these issues.

“The Department for Education could be doing much more to empower the profession and face up to the actual barriers in the classroom,” Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union.

“On race equality, for example, the messages from the DfE have been mixed, confusing and unhelpful when it comes to the importance of actively challenging racism, talking about racism and countering racist stereotypes,” Courtney said.

The Association of School and College Leaders also said that teachers have an important role to play in educating young people about the false premises and dangers posed by extremist ideologies, but warned “they cannot do this alone, and more support is needed.”

“The reality is that schools have to juggle multiple demands on their time in the context of packed timetables and severe funding constraints, all at a time when our society has undergone a digital revolution which allows people to spread hateful views at the click of a button,” it said.

The study found that more than half the teachers had heard pupils express far-right extremist views in their classroom, while around three-quarters had heard ‘extremist views about women’ or Islamophobia.

It also revealed that many teachers do not talk about extreme views in the classroom out of fear that they will ‘get it wrong, especially on matters related to race’ as well as identifying particular problems with responding to conspiracy theories that presented a major problem.

Schools are mandated to report students at risk of radicalisation under the controversial Prevent programme and to “promote” and not “undermine” so-called fundamental British values.

The research found that many schools, particularly primaries, were treating policy such as Fundamental British Values “tokenistically to ensure compliance with Ofsted” as well as their scepticism about such teaching as a means of addressing extremism.

Researcher Dr Becky Taylor said the report showed that some schools “fail to move beyond surface-level explorations of violence, extremism and radicalisation” but remained convinced that schools can play an important role.

“Engaging well with their local communities and ensuring that schools and teachers are supported and appropriately resourced can help young people to problematise ‘hateful extremism’, she said.

“We are convinced that teachers need to be able to bring their own pedagogical expertise to the classroom, enhanced through appropriate professional development, to ensure their classrooms are safe environments for open discussion.”

Legal challenge against UK ban on pupils debating Israel’s “right to exist”

Photo: Gavin Williamson (Credit: Richard Townshend/UK Parliament)

Hamed Chapman

London-based human rights organisation Cage launched a legal challenge early this month to a letter written by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, providing guidance to schools about how they should handle student protests against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The letter, dated May 28, addresses what is described as ‘Anti-Semitic incidents’ in schools and called on school leaders and staff to “act appropriately” when they express political views on Israel and Palestine as well as claiming they are prohibited from engaging with organisations that reject Israel’s right to exist.

“Cage believes that no such right exists in international law that prohibits people and groups from questioning a state’s legitimacy,” the organisation said, which aims ‘to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”’.

The notion of Israel’s ‘right to exist’ is said to be just a partisan political view that the Education Secretary is “prohibited from promoting, in any way, under the 1996 Education Act.

“For too long, the political phrase ‘Israel’s right to exist’ has been used as a weapon to silence any debate about the legitimacy of its creation, the right of return of Palestinian refugees displaced by its creation and the apartheid nature of the Israeli state,” its Managing Director, Muhammad Rabbani, said.

“Our children should not be prevented by the Education Secretary from having access to organisations and material that provide a balanced view of these issues.” Questioned by The Muslim News, a Department for Education spokesperson said that “anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, is abhorrent and has no place in our schools.”

“The Education Secretary wrote to schools to remind them of their responsibility to deal with anti-Semitic incidents with due seriousness, following a reported increase during the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the spokesman said

“The law is clear that schools must remain politically impartial. Schools must not promote partisan political views and should ensure the balanced treatment of political issues,” he added. Also stating that his department was “developing further guidance to support schools to understand and meet their duties in this area.”

Expert opinions provided by eminent international law jurist Professor John Dugard and Professor Avraham “Avi” Shlaim, emeritus fellow at Oxford University and several Palestinian civil society organisations supported the legal challenge seeking a judicial review in the High Court.

The Palestinian Return Centre, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, the British Palestinian Policy Council and Al Haq provided evidence to support the judicial review. Professor Dugard, a former member of the UN International Law Commission, said Israel claims it has the right to exist “because the legality of its creation was contested and is still a matter for debate” and that in order to assert its legitimacy as a State and the legality of its creation it asserts its “right to exist”.

“This assertion is not made in the exercise of any right recognised by international law. It is simply a political appeal designed to justify the morality and legality of Israel’s creation and existence as a State,” he said.
“To exclude this subject from debate would be a serious violation of academic freedom and freedom of expression,” he warned.

Professor Shlaim, who is a Fellow of the British Academy, said Israel’s claimed right to exist was “not a legal right but an ideological and emotionally loaded catchphrase that served to divert attention from mounting international opposition to its illegal occupation.”

Fahad Ansari, solicitor and director of Riverway Law, who is instructed in this challenge, said that the evidence filed in support of the challenge “clearly demonstrates that the Education Secretary breached the Education Act 1996 by imposing his partisan political view on school pupils.”

“While he is entitled to hold the view that Israel has the right to exist, he cannot legally deny discussion about the legality of its creation and its current legitimacy. Schools should be safe spaces for healthy debate, not institutions of political indoctrination,” Ansari said.Williamson has 21 days to confirm if he intends to contest the claim and, if so, to provide his summary grounds for defence. If he contests the claim and the High Court decides the case is arguable, it will grant permission for the full hearing to proceed.

Blair insists “radical Islam” remains main global threat

Anti-Tony Blair protest – Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, London January 21, 2011 (Credit: Chris Beckett/Flickr Commons)


Hamed Chapman

Former disgraced Prime Minister Tony Blair used the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US to launch a renewed Islamophobic tirade about threats facing the West, arguing once again for democratic governments to use military force to defend and export their values.

“Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first-order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated,” the former Labour leader said in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute to mark the anniversary.

“This ideology – whether Shia, promulgated by the Islamic Republic of Iran or Sunni promoted by groups on a spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood through to Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and many others – has been the principal cause of de-stabilisation across the Middle East, and beyond and today in Africa.

“Like Revolutionary Communism, it operates in many different arenas and dimensions; and like it, its defeat will come ultimately through confronting both the violence and the ideology, by a combination of hard and soft power,” he controversially argued.

Notoriously, Blair ignored overwhelming warnings from academics and peace campaigners to join US President George W Bush in invading Afghanistan in 2001 before being distracted and expanding their military target to Iraq two years later on what turned out to be false premises.

Whilst many have argued that the former premier should stand trial for war crimes, he said he found it deeply depressing to hear Western opinion claim “we are foolish in believing that Western notions of liberal democracy and freedom are exportable or will ever take root except in the somewhat decadent terrain of Western society.”

He called for leading powers, including China and Russia, to “unite to develop an agreed strategy” in the interest of “countering this ideology” and for Muslim allies, “including in the Middle East, desperate to re-take their religion from extremism”.

His speech came as the US, UK, and their allies were scurrying to evacuate Afghanistan after being rapidly recaptured by the Taliban and President Joe Biden suggesting that the end of the 20-year intervention in Afghanistan turns the page on an era of nation-building.

Seeking potential new battlegrounds, Blair signalled even moving further south to other Muslim countries. “Britain should work more closely with European countries on how best to develop the capacity to tackle the threat in areas such as Africa’s Sahel region,” he suggested.

The threat remained what he described as the “global movement of Radical Islam,” which contains many groups, including the Taliban, which “share the same basic ideology” which other so-called Islamists agree with but eschew violence.

“In simple terms, this holds that there is only one true faith, only one true view of that faith and that society, politics and culture should be governed only by that view.”

The picture the former Prime Minister painted was that “radical Islam believes not only in Islamism – the turning of the religion into a political doctrine – but also in the justification of struggle, if necessary armed struggle to achieve it.”

He even cited the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that it had taught “us about deadly pathogens,” and that “bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction, but we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-State actors.”

Blair converted to Catholicism after stepping down from power, and yet as if to justify sending troops in, he suggested that although the natural preference was for boots to be local, it was not always possible, and “we need some ‘boots on the ground’.”

Muslim MP rebuked for accusing Johnson and Patel of ‘stoking the fire of racism’

(Credit: @ZarahSultana/Twitter)

Hamed Chapman

Labour MP for Coventry South says that she was flabbergasted by the way she was spoken down to by a junior minister in the House of Commons after accusing both the Prime Minister and Home Secretary of ‘stoking the fire of racism’

‘Every person of colour has an experience like this. We raise blatant examples of racism, and some posh white person tells us we’re being aggressive and that we should watch our “tone”. Still shocked that it happened to me in Parliament yesterday,’ Zarah Sultana tweeted the next day on Twitter.

The Muslim MP was speaking in a debate about the prevalence of racist abuse on social media after three English international footballers, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, were subjected to virulent vilification after missing deciding penalties in the Euro2020 championship final.

She asked Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding at the Home Office, Victoria Atkins on July 14, “What did she think about the Prime Minister when he was describing black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”?

“When he used newspaper columns to mock Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’, when he refused to condemn the booing of England players taking the knee, and when his Home Secretary derided that anti-racist message as ‘gesture politics’?”

“Is it not the case, like England star Tyrone Mings has said, that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister were stoking the fire of racism and giving the green light to racism, and only now when the consequences are clear, are they feigning outrage?” Sultana questioned the Minister speaking for the Government.

Earlier, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson was also challenged by Labour Leader Keir Starmer on his role in refusing to condemn fans for booing footballers taking the knee that stoked the fire of racism. But in response to the Muslim MP, Atkins admonished her for “trying to shout” at her, suggesting that Sultana was making a “truly extraordinary allegation” and suggested that she “lower the tone.”

“I had hoped that we would be able to conduct this debate in a measured and collective way. I do not genuinely think the Hon. Lady is accusing either the Prime Minister of this country or, indeed, the Home Secretary of racism,” the junior Minister said condescendingly.

It is the role of the speaker to maintain order in the House of Commons, but Sir Lindsay Hoyle remained quiet and chose not to intervene despite many people taking to Twitter to call Atkins out for the condescending way she targeted one of only two ethnic minority MPs speaking in a debate about racism.
Many tweeted in support of Sultana.

Rita Chadha wrote, “I am seething. There was nothing at all aggressive in Zarah’s approach. The absence of eye contact and patronising attitude is the epitome of white privilege and racial gaslighting – and this woman is in charge of safeguarding!”

Faye Kamsika tweeted: “Atkins says, ‘Lower the tone’. It means, ‘know your place’. Be submissive. Don’t ask awkward questions. This is in the Commons, a place that rings with boos and jeers of mainly white men. Victoria Atkins patronises women of colour. On the record.”

The Home Office insisted the Minister had not directed the “lower the tone” comment at Sultana, adding, “Ms Sultana has wilfully misrepresented Victoria’s comments for a few Twitter likes.”

Other Government ministers adopted similar tactics including, Matt Hancock, who previously told Labour MP and A&E doctor Rosena Allin-Khan, to “watch her tone” when she criticised the former Health Secretary about the failures with Covid-19 testing and PPE.

No less than 31 Labour ethnic minority MPs also criticised Home Secretary Priti Patel last year for using her heritage and experience of racism to “gaslight other minority communities”. It came after Patel was criticised about the Government’s policy towards Black Lives Matter when Labour’s Florence Eshalomi questioned whether she does “actually understand the anger and frustration felt by so many people.”

Muslims disproportionately hit by Covid infection by Eat Out to Help Out scheme

Professor Parvez Haris. (Courtesy of Professor Haris)

Hamed Chapman

The Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, designed to kick start the hospitality industry during last year’s second wave lockdown, was responsible for a huge rise in deaths due to Covid-19 disease among the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, according to a leading biomedical scientist.

Professor Parvez Haris of De Montfort University in Leicester said the initiative, launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, created the “ideal environment” for exposure to Covid in communities with the highest proportion of people working in the restaurant sector. “Sunak being an Asian and having worked in a curry house in

Southampton should have understood that small businesses did not have good ventilation, health and safety officers, they suffered from diabetes and other co-morbidities,” Haris said.

“It didn’t need rocket science to predict that this was going to increase in transmission of the virus and ultimately death,” the Professor told The Muslim News.

A damning report by the Institute for Government (IfG) found that Sunak did not bother to consult scientific experts before launching his ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme last Summer that led to a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases shortly afterwards. The generous 50% discount paid for by taxpayers scheme, which provided cheaper meals to people visiting restaurants but was called “epidemiologically illiterate” by experts interviewed by the IfG.

Haris said he believed that the Chancellor “had good intentions, however, what he should have done is to prevent this happening. He should have given more thought to this and consulted Sage.” It was a “recipe for disaster, especially for the Bangladeshi & Pakistani communities who have the highest percentage of people working in the sector and also suffer disproportionately from underlying health conditions and overcrowding at home,” he said.

“The fact they are the only ethnic groups who saw an increase in deaths during the second wave is not surprising and neither is it rocket science,” said the Professor who presented his findings to global health experts at the International Festival of Public Health in Manchester last month.

According to the Office of National Statistics data, all ethnicities showed a decrease in mortality in the second wave, compared to the first wave, apart from Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.

This included 165 per cent death rate increase for Bangladeshi men and over 200 per cent for Bangladeshi women and a dramatic increase by 124 per cent and 97 per cent for men and women of Pakistani ethnicity, respectively.
Ethnic Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have the highest percentage of self-employed people of any ethnicity, many owning small restaurants and fast-food outlets where ventilation is often very poor.

The Professor expressed concern that the lifting of restrictions in England could see these ethnic groups hit again without further protections for small businesses.

“Covid-19 is an occupational disease that became clearly evident in the UK through the differences in mortality rates among ethnic groups in the second wave, with dramatic increases in groups working mainly in the hospitality sector during the Eat out to Help Out scheme,” he said.

Harris is asking the Government to give financial support to these smaller businesses. “I recommend the Government to provide grants made available to small businesses to upgrade ventilation in restaurant kitchens. This will not only protect them from Covid-19 infections and health overall it will also eliminate toxic fumes generated when they are cooking,” he said.

Bangladeshi and Pakistanis are also at risk, having the highest percentage of people – 17.8 per cent – working in the transport and communication sector, such as taxi or mini-cab drivers. The Bangladeshi population is also seen having the highest incidence of diabetes in the UK.

UK seeks retaliation against Iran after Israeli tanker strike

(Map Flickr Commons)

Hamed Chapman

British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, says he is seeking support for action against Iran following the latest flare-up in what is being described as a ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran after two people were killed in a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman.

“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran. UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters,” Raab said.

“Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law. The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack,” he said.

The tanker is operated by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime based in London, and the warning comes after Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, blamed Iran for the drone attack and threatened to “send a message” in retaliation.

But the Iranian Ambassador in London, Mohsen Baharvand, cautioned against hasty and unsubstantiated accusations and said there had already been 11 Israeli attacks on Iranian cargo vessels so far this year.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Israeli attacks made public have included on the container ship Shahr E Kord, intelligence cargo ship Saviz and tanker Wisdom. Israeli sabotage is also suspected of the sinking of Iran’s largest navy ship, the Kharg, in June.

At a briefing, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the attack on the Mercer Street was “unacceptable and was an outrageous attack on commercial shipping in which a British national died. It’s vital Iran, and every country respects the freedom of navigation, and the UK will continue to insist on that.”

But as to why the Prime Minister had not similarly condemned more than a dozen Israeli attacks on Iranian oil tankers in the past two years, the Spokesman could only say he was “not aware” of any such incidents.

He suggested that journalists “should ask the Foreign and Development Office” when challenged if Israel respected commercial navigation too when it was pointed out that the Israeli media, as well as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, have reported such attacks on Iranian oil tankers.

Britain’s partisan approach was also underlined by the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Nick Carter, the country’s top military commander, who warned that western powers need to retaliate, otherwise Tehran would feel emboldened. “What we need to be doing, fundamentally, is calling out Iran for its very reckless behaviour,” he told the BBC.

The latest flare-up came just ahead of the inauguration of Iran’s new President, Ebrahim Raisi, and as the US has been seen dragging out re-joining the international nuclear deal with Iran which Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from during his time in office which Israel had supported.

The Daily Mail reported that the British Government was initially reluctant to apportion blame for the latest attack until it came under criticism, with the right-wing The Henry Jackson Society accusing

“naïve” and “stupid” UK officials of “ignoring Iran’s malfeasances for too long”.
Joining with the US, G7 Foreign Ministers and the High Representative of the European Union issued a collective statement saying they “stand united in our commitment to maritime security and the protection of commercial shipping.”

“We condemn the unlawful attack committed on a merchant’s vessel off the coast of Oman on 29 July, which killed a British and a Romanian national. This was a deliberate and targeted attack and a clear violation of international law. All available evidence clearly points to Iran.

There is no justification for this attack,” the statement said. But rather than demanding retaliatory measures, it called on Iran to “stop all activities inconsistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions” and on “all parties to play a constructive role in fostering regional stability and peace.”

With regard to evidence about the latest attack, an investigation by the US Department of Defense was eventually reported to have found that the drone which blasted a hole in the vessel’s bridge, killing two crewmen, was made in Iran.

In a statement, the Pentagon’s Central Command said that an investigative team was sent to inspect the vessel from the USS Ronald Reagan supercarrier and found the UAV, used by Iran and its ‘proxies’ in the region, was “loaded with a military-grade explosive”.

Additional report by Ahmed J Versi

Muslim school under fire after inspectors find anti-homosexuality book in library

Home Correspondent

A Dewsbury-based Muslim school has come under fire after England schools’ watchdog Ofsted found a book in its library calling for gay people to be executed.

An Ofsted report published on July 20 reveals officials were shocked to find the book in the Institute of Islamic Education’s school library.

Ofsted inspected the Institute of Islamic Education in Dewsbury on May 18 and 19 and concluded that the school does not meet all the national minimum standards or the overall outcome-independent school standards that were checked during the inspection.

The school was heavily criticised in many areas—such as quality of education, safeguarding and site maintenance—but the inspection also found that “fundamental British values” were being undermined by leaders’ failings as they had not ensured that all texts in the school’s library were suitable for pupils.

“Inspectors found a book called ‘Islam on Homosexuality’,” the report noted. “This book had been stamped by the school as a library book. It included inappropriate content which does not encourage respect for those who share one of the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010.

“The text included sections on the punishment of individuals because of their sexuality and views which contradict the rule of law. For example, the book included ‘…the participants of the homosexual act should be slained (wording in the text) whether they are married or unmarried because in filth and mischief of this act surpasses adultery.’ In a paragraph titled ‘putting to death’, it states ‘… the evildoers should be put to death’.”

The Ofsted report concluded, “The new headteacher recognises the school’s failings and has plans to improve the quality of education at the school. However, leaders are not addressing safeguarding failings and issues with site maintenance with sufficient urgency or rigour. There remains a lax attitude towards safeguarding. There is an urgent need for staff, including senior leaders, to attend safeguarding training.”

In a statement to The Muslim News, the Institute of Islamic Education said, ‘Following the inspection, trustees and leaders at the Institute have acted swiftly and decisively to address the issues raised by the inspectors.

The majority of the areas for improvement identified have now been rectified, and trustees, leaders and staff at the Institute are continuing to work with rigour, diligence and integrity to ensure that all appropriate standards have been met.’

Adding, ‘The Institute’s full and unequivocal commitment to fundamental British values has been reaffirmed, and all books in its library are now consistent with these values. Systems are in place to ensure that the quality of education and care provided by the Institute to its students is of the highest standard and is compliant with all statutory and regulatory requirements.’

Apsana Begum MP cleared of fraud

Photo: Apsana Begum (Credit: David Woolfall/UK Parliament)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Labour MP Apsana Begum was cleared of housing fraud on July 30. Begum, 31, who represents the constituency of Poplar and Limehouse, was accused of three counts of making dishonest applications for council homes to Tower Hamlets Council.

She told Snaresbrook Crown Court her “controlling” husband was in charge of her finances and she was “shocked” to discover the paperwork was in her name. Begum said the accusations had been “driven by malicious intent.”

Begum fled her family home in 2013 after an argument during which her brother claimed she was “possessed”, leading her to fear honour-based violence. Not only a survivor of domestic abuse, but Begum has also been the victim of sexist, racist and Islamophobic abuse online since the case against her began 18 months ago.

The court heard Ms Begum, who won her seat in the 2019 general election, had applied to go on the council’s social housing register on July 22, 2011.

Her charges related to separate periods, between January 18 and May 21, 2013; May 21, 2013, and March 23, 2014, and October 28, 2015, and March 21, 2016.

It is alleged Begum attempted to gain social housing in the first period by claiming she lived in an overcrowded three-bedroom house, making her a higher priority in the social housing queue.

However, according to a social housing application made in 2009 by her aunt, the house had four bedrooms.
Begum maintained there had only ever been three bedrooms in the house, and that she had never had her own bedroom while living there.

She later moved into a different property with her then-partner Ehtashamul Haque without informing the council where she lived for over two years. Begum claims Haque was “controlling and coercive” and took over her finances.
During this period, bids for housing were made in Begum’s name, bids she denied making.

“I’m shocked to see these records,” she told the court. Commenting on her acquittal, Begum said, “This case has been driven by malicious intent and has caused me great distress and damage to my reputation. I would like to say a sincere thank you to all my legal team and all those who have shown me solidarity, support and kindness. As a survivor of domestic abuse facing these vexatious charges, the last 18 months of false accusations, online sexist, racist, and Islamophobic abuse, and threats to my safety have been exceedingly difficult. I also thank the jury for vindicating me, and the judge for presiding over this trial.

“I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else. I would now like to get on with my job of representing my constituents – opposing the negligent Covid-19 decisions made by Johnson’s reckless Tory Government, which has caused so many families to lose loved ones who should still be with us today and so much hardship that could have been avoided. My comrades and friends in Poplar and

Limehouse, and beyond, have stood by me. I have and will always stand by them.”

In a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said it is duty-bound “to investigate any allegations of housing fraud in order to ensure public money is spent correctly and that those waiting on our housing register are treated fairly. After reviewing the evidence with the benefit of independent legal advice, it was found to be strong enough to bring the matter to court, where it was agreed there was a case to answer. We fully accept the verdict, that justice has run its course and that the matter is now closed.”

Begum was represented by Raj Chada, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who added, “I am delighted that Apsana has been found not guilty. Prosecutors and investigators need to better understand and consider how victims of coercive control and domestic abuse behave and how they are treated by the criminal justice system.

“Thankfully, Apsana can continue serving her constituents and highlighting the issues that are important to them.”

Labour MPs swiftly rallied to Begum’s defence, saying she had endured heightened criticism during the court battle due to her sex and religion.

Imran Hussain, Shadow Employment Rights Minister, said she faced “sexist, racist and Islamophobic abuse” as she fought to clear her name. Grahame Morris, the MP for Easington, said she had been the “victim of a malicious, politically motivated prosecution that has sadly generated much online abuse against her, causing much needless distress and discomfort.”

The former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted his congratulations, writing: “I always knew you to be a woman of amazing strength and fortitude, and yet again that has been proven.”

The former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, said he had been proud to give testimony in support of Begum in court – and did it “because, in my opinion, this young woman has displayed integrity, sincerity and dedication to upholding what is right all the time I have known her.”

He called her an “excellent MP and a superb socialist,” echoing praise from the former Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, who said he was “very pleased for my friend and comrade Apsana. Throughout all of this, and everything said about her, she has never stopped working for her community and for what is right and standing up for her principles.”

Others also sent messages of solidarity, including the former deputy leadership contender, Dawn Butler. She said that as a domestic abuse survivor, she should be truly admired and that to have had that exposed in public “compounds that abuse.” She urged Begum to “take time out to rest and recuperate.”

Sarah Champion, Chair of the Commons Select Committee on International Development, said Begum could hold her head high and added, “I’m, so deeply sorry for what you have had to endure.”

Questions were raised over the decision to launch legal action against Begum.

Jon Trickett, another former frontbencher, said there were “serious questions about this flawed prosecution” that needed answering in light of Begum being cleared of wrongdoing. Nazir Afzal, a former regional chief prosecutor, also said Begum had confided in both him and the council that she was the victim of domestic and “honour”-based abuse, but that the local authority’s decision to proceed with the case had been proven to be “a waste of public money.”

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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